Monday, June 30, 2008

Faraway


My mind is too faraway to blog right now. I do attempt to keep private the truly personal issues I encounter in life, but I will share that a dear friend of mine is encountering trials.

She told me this weekend, "It's not how you act when life is good that defines who you are, it's how you behave when things are going badly that shows a person's character." And she's right. It's easy to smile, to be generous and pleasant when life is all as it should be. It's easy for us to be 'good people' when our mouths are fed, our yards watered, our bill's paid, our health perfect. But as I watch her deal with difficulties, and yet she still smiles and gives compliments and worries about other's comforts instead of her own; I am in awe.

I hope you'll keep my precious friend in your prayers. I wont be able to return comments or emails for a while, thank you for understanding.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Floating


On his 80th birthday, Hoagy Carmichael said "I’m a bit disappointed in myself. I know I could have accomplished a hell of a lot more... I could write anything any time I wanted to. But I let other things get in the way... I’ve been floating around in the breeze."


There will always be dirty dishes left on the dining room table, towels to be washed, plants to be watered. There will always be an episode of Deadliest Catch I haven't seen, a floor to be swept, an errand to be run, a phone call to answer. We’re all floating, in one way or another.

But wouldn’t it be nice, even if only for one day, if we pushed the distractions away. Wouldn’t it be nice if we stopped floating and lived consciously? Conscience of our time on this earth, the blessing that we so often float through, forgetful and distracted. Distracted from God's gift of time.

This weekend I wont float. I wont lose three hours to a Law and Order marathon. I wont stress about bills or the yard or the annoying cat down the street that tries to beat up Mabel every time we walk by. I'm going to finish a chapter I've been putting off, I'm going to watch the fire flies in the backyard, go to the farmer's market, see a band, and create memories that I'll actually remember.

No floating this weekend.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jewelry/Paint Color



My sainted sister bought me a bracelet. Enough said, right?



The best part (in my opinion) is the back that no one sees. What's better than lots of stars?



OK, how do you really spell that? Grey? Gray? Either way, in answer to your comments and emails: I believe it's called Seashell Grey, Valspar @ Lowes. I'm just relieved there's women out there who love this neutral color as much as I do!

Thank you for all your compliments on my house. I assure you, it's been the five year result of blind luck, spray paint and chance curb-side/yard-sale finds. I really enjoyed hearing from everyone, about your individual color and decorating experiences; they're all fascinating. I cant tell you how much I enjoy keeping up with all your projects, furniture finds, remodels. It's the stuff of great magazines and decorating books; yet we're all lucky enough to read blogs for free.




Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Color Thoughts



I’ve been thinking about my earlier post. I fear I may have come across a little stodgy about color. There seem to be two camps in the decor world; neutral vs. colorful. To be honest, I've always had a foot on both sides. But it made me ponder my own color choices. Why do we pick the colors we do? Why do some of us feel the need to surround ourselves from floor to ceiling with color, while others of us crave a more neutral backdrop?





I’ve always thought that perhaps my personality plays into it. I’m naturally a little high-strung. I bounce from neutral wall to neutral wall on a good day, so please imagine the chaos that would ensue if someone locked me a bright yellow room. I might kick my way through the wall board.





On the other hand, I’m not an all-neutral gal either. I adore colorful stuff. If someone locked me in a completely neutral home, bad things would happen. I’d grab my emergency can of red spray paint (you’re laughing… but I’m not kidding… I really have one) and scrawl across the walls, “No color makes Liz a dull girl.”





Before I make myself sound completely bipolar, I should wrap this up saying that each of us carries a certain personal preference for color. I find it fascinating that one woman would paint a kitchen red and buy white china. And on the flip side, I painted my kitchen a neutral gray but didn’t flinch from buying persimmon fiesta ware.



I think that is what’s so fascinating about blog land. I love seeing how each woman decorates differently, completely with her own preferences and flare. Perusing blogs has been a giant inspiration in my own life, and so I thought I’d share some of my favorite color links with you.



Tales From Goshen: Blue Breakfast Nook
This is my friend Ashley. You should just see her house. But since you cant, I’ll link you to her adorable little breakfast nook that she painted a vibrant blue. From her chocolate brown bedroom to her purple striped nursery; this girl is not afraid of color.

Brooklyn Limestone
OK, I can’t really send anyone to a specific link on this blog. Just look at it. Look at all of it. And then glance around your own home with disgust. That’s what I did. Seriously though, this home is a lesson in color elegance.

Creative Daisy; bedroom/living room post
I don’t know what’s best about Autum’s color taste. Her gorgeous new patio? Her blue kitchen/living room? Her newly designed bedroom? Autum’s color style is fun, classy. You’ll love it, you’ll love her.


Anna Maria Horner: Studio

Anna Maria Horner: Kitchen

OK, for the record I do not know Anna Maria Hornier. She’s a blog world legend of sorts, and I, like hundreds of other women, take my hat off to her color style. Of course, one only has to gaze at her breathtaking fabrics to see she has fabulous taste. These are links to her studio and a background pic of her kitchen. Bright, vibrant colors everywhere. What’s not to love?

Becoming Home: Color
I can’t remember where I stumbled onto Ariana’s blog, but I was so excited when I did. She blogs about decorating her first home, and I’ve always thought her color choices were so soothing.

My Little Life: Dining Room
Jerusalem is a jack of all trades. She decorates, she crafts, and she runs a business. But I’ve always thought her cheerful color choices in her adorable cottage were SO inspiring. Because of her, I almost painted my living room turquoise this winter. I love this link to her dining room, and I especially love that blue lamp. Her home is vintage, homey, and I won't be surprised one day to see it in Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion.

Nest Decorating: Home Pics
This is another lady I don’t really know, but she is hands down one of my favorite blog finds. She uses lively color in furniture and books and accessories; and every now and then a big bold swatch on the wall. I aspire to this style, whatever it may be.

Restyled Home: The Blue Sparkly Pumpkin
This might be my most favorite woman in blog land. She’s sweet, funny, talented and her house is completely drool-worthy. She’s got beachy, chic, elegant style, but she won my heart last Halloween with this blue sparkly pumpkin. If that isn’t the ultimate in color creative, I don’t know what is.


Gahan Girls: Cozy Study
I stumbled onto Dawn’s blog a few months ago and was totally won over by her homey, elegant yet vintage home. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Whatever: Home Pics
This is Meg. She’s fabulous. Her house is fabulous. Her kids are fabulous. And I love the fact that she uses neutrals in some rooms, and vibrant daring colors in others. Her home is a great mix of funky and elegant.





Goodbye Green


If you remember, last year I painted my little hallway green. I did it on a whim, which if any of you can relate, is usually a bad idea. In my case, whims equal odd colors that don't match anything else in the house (case in point), bizarre sculptures from flea markets, and purchases of super flowery pink fabrics that I couldn't possibly use. Whims are bad.


So I finally caved. I admitted defeat. After staring at that color for the past year I threw up my hands and said, "Fine! Let's just paint it the same color as the kitchen!" And so we did. PS.. dont inspect the trim too closely. It's getting a touch up soon.


The green color looked SO much better in pictures. In real life, especially when the hallway light was on, it was an unflattering neon'ish shade. Too yellow, too bright. At least for my house. I love this gray color, it's the perfect neutral in my opinion. What makes the perfect neutral? No brown. It's a long standing phobia you can find here.

I admire bold wall color people. I admire people who go to the paint store, buy four different color paints, come home and slap it on the walls. Red living room, blue kitchen, green bathroom, purple bedroom. I admire them, but I'm not one of them. I've dreamed of living at the beach (or on the water) my entire life, and for me that means three favorite wall colors: blue, white, grey.


I also caught Mabel hanging out in my office.


She used to hate going in there. I would be typing at the computer, and she would stand in the doorway, peering through, her little face saying, "Why are you still in here? Why aren't you in the den watching TV so I can sit in your lap?" But finally she's loosened up, and to her delight, she's discovered the old red couch in there is pretty comfortable.

I dont mind the company either.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cousin Cake


Good weekend. I made a new cake and nothing exploded. Nothing caught on fire, no mysterious smells wafted from the oven causing my husband to shout, "Is that supposed to smell that way?" Eh, not that that has ever happened.


My lovely cousin gave me a Pistachio Cake recipe last week. I crave pistachio like a pregnant lady craves pickles. Or strawberries. Or strawberries and pickles. I can never keep that straight, mostly because I have no idea what a pregnant lady feels like. I do, however, have vast experience with gall stones, but that's an entirely different ballgame. How did I lose my train of thought this early in a post?


Anyway, I was so inspired by this recipe (and simultaneously revolted by the sad state my recipe cards) that I began to put together a new recipe book. I used these fantastic little recipe cards, but instead of cutting them up I just put the whole sheets in a binder. We'll see how it works out, but for now at least they're somewhat organized.


Anyway, the cake was wonderful. Easy and wonderful. You can see where my husband had already begun to knaw on the inner circle part of the cake because, "No one will notice there."

I've decided to call it Cousin Cake in honor of my cousin. I hope she wont mind my giving out her wonderful recipe, but I figured there was no way I could put pictures of a green bundt cake on the web and not explain it.





Cousin Cake (Pistachio Cake)

1 Yellow Cake Mix (Duncan Hines)
3 Pistachio Instant Puddings
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Oil
4 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix with electric mixer until fluffy. Pour into greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 min.

Icing:

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 Cup Milk
1/8 stick of butter

Add powdered sugar and/or butter until right consistency and drizzle over cake.





Friday, June 20, 2008

Jewelry Junkies


I'm usually such a tidy person (stop snickering Rebecca). But here lately, Ive been letting a few things slide. For example, I have a horrible habit of piling necklace on top of necklace each day when I get home.

As I surveyed the damage last night, I realized something. I'm a bit of a jewelry hog. Not expensive jewelry mind you, but usually the cheap sale necklaces at Steinmart and JC Penney. I love these little cheapos.



I suspect my love of jewelry stems more from sentiment than flashiness. I remember wearing my white shell necklace in the shape of a dogwood flower on the first day of my first real job. I remember buying a rhinestone medallion necklace to wear to my best friend's bridal shower. I've got a pair of abalone earrings that my mom bought for me on a girl trip, and a giant fake yellow gemstone ring my little sisters gave to me for Christmas (I think that was the same year Ben Afleck gave a yellow diamond ring to J-Lo, they thought that was hilarious).


If I lumped all of this in a basket and carted it to a pawn shop, they would probably laugh and offer me $20.00. But the value isn't in the money, it's in the memories. I suspect that most of us jewelry junkies feel the same way; we love our cheap necklaces and gold 'skimmed' rings because of who bought them for us and the special events when we wore them, not how much they cost.


But now, the time has come for me to clean. Seriously. If I still lived at home, my mom would be yelling, "I'm going to wait until you're gone one day and throw all of this mess away!" Yikes, she has a key. She could still do that...



*** P.S.
I've found a couple of things that are really lighting my creative fire here lately. One is Jerusalem's super innovative idea of an online summer craft camp. Another is Autum's beyond fabulous patio makeover. Check them out! You'll be motivated to turn off that TV in no time! And sorry to bloglines people, I've re-posted this thing three times this morning. But those grammar things HAD to be fixed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Secret of Cold Springs: Part Two


*** Ok, some of you asked for more, so I hope you really wanted it. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, or how much I'll post over time, but I cannot tell you how much your feedback helps!




Clara and Amelia stumbled up the path carrying the boxes that Nora, in her great excitement, had forgotten to help with.

“I’m exhausted!” Clara exclaimed, “I can’t wait to sit inside a cool house with a good air conditioner. The one in the car is beyond screwed up.”

“Oh,” Mrs. Charles crossed her arms uncertainly, her friendly brown eyes worried, “Well, there’s just one little hiccup. There isn’t any air conditioning in the house.”

“What?” Amelia demanded, hastily dropping the box she carried.

“Well, the house is so old they never put it in. But we’ll buy some nice fans in town, and when the windows are open we’ll get great cross ventilation,” Mrs. Charles offered.

Amelia gazed contemptuously at the blue and pink house, “What a dump. Can’t we just knock it down? Build a new one?”

Nora gasped in horror, “KNOCK IT DOWN? That house is over 100 years old, you just don’t go knocking down historic…”

“I don’t care, I just want to take a shower and get clean,” Clara interrupted calmly.

“Yeah, me too,” Amelia agreed as she stuck her tongue out at Nora and wiped sweat off her glistening forehead, “I still say we should knock this house down and start over. We can start right after my shower; I’ll get the hammer out of the car.”

Mrs. Charles shook her head sternly, “We’re not ‘knocking it down.’ It’s a fine old house, just needs some work. And there’s another hiccup. One of you will have to wait your turn for a shower.”

Clara laughed, “Why? Don’t tell me there’s just one bathroom.”

Mrs. Charles nodded slowly.

“ONE BATHROOM!” yelled Amelia.

Clara and Amelia turned, glared at each other, and raced through the screen door. Nora squinted her eyes as she heard them crashing upstairs.

“I called the shower first!” Clara yelled.

“Bite me!” Amelia shouted back.

Mrs. Charles gazed to the heavens for patience, and then turned her attention on her youngest daughter. She touched Nora’s left earring, a gold hoop, and then examined the chandelier earring hanging from her right ear, "Sweets, why don’t you wear a pair of earrings that match? Or maybe change out of all these black clothes;" she pulled at Nora's black shirt, "you would look so pretty in something pink, or lavender."

Nora gritted her teeth stubbornly, "I like my earrings this way, and black clothes are easy. I don’t have to match anything, and Amelia doesn’t try to borrow my clothes," she paused for emphasis,” and no pink. Not now. Not ever."

Mrs. Charles, a woman well versed in experience with Nora’s quirks, shrugged her shoulders lightly, “Oh well, it’s just a suggestion.”

There was a resolute thud on the ceiling above them as they entered the house, which notified them that Fat George had awoken from a nap and was coming to greet them. He skidded down the stairs and past a stack of boxes, howling greetings of affection to Nora. Fat George wanted three things in life, and made no secret of them; constant attention, lots of food, and the right to nap on any piece of furniture in the house.

Mrs. Charles excitedly showed Nora the original chandelier in the pink dining room, the black marble fireplace in the living room, and the giant butler’s pantry beside the kitchen.
“I’m so glad you like it, Nora. I hope your sisters will come around,” Mrs. Charles sighed.

“They have to! This place is just too awesome,” Nora assured as she inspected the crystal sconces above the fireplace. She smiled, noticing that her mom seemed happier than she had seen her in a long time, “You’re really excited about your new job, aren’t you?”

“I really am,” Mrs. Charles nodded, “I start on the planning for the Halloween Ball soon, and the hotel is just breathtaking.”

Years ago, Charlotte Charles gave up the idea of being a famous artist. She started doing what she did second best, smoothing over ruffled feathers. She found her way into the hospitality profession in a large city hotel, which made her a shoo-in for her job at the Star Hotel.
The Star Hotel rested at the very top of the mountain, serenely positioned above the town. Originally built as a girl’s school, it was later remodeled into a hotel. She loomed with her stone walls and balconies, a castle. The lawns sprawling around her were something from another era, full of gazebos and flower gardens. Guests still played Croquet during the summer. It was there, at the Star Hotel, where Mr. and Mrs. Charles fell in love.

As a young woman, Mrs. Charles had been a true hippy. Nora loved the pictures in their old scrapbooks; her mother’s long mouse brown hair flowing, paint brush in her hand. She was part of a generation who ran away from their middle class upbringings and the neat orderly suburbs of their parents. The town surged, full of flower children and transplants from far off places like San Francisco and Seattle. Amid this bustle, Nora’s parents met.

Walter was not a hippy. As a construction worker, he was called in to work on the renovation of the Star Hotel. Walter was strong and possessed a big sense of humor. Nora’s favorite picture of her father was one taken of the construction workers in front of the hotel, his mouth curling in that familiar smile, the hotel looming mysteriously in the background. Nora loved that picture, but it made her terribly sad when she looked at it. The man in that picture was not supposed to die; he was young and strong. But he had. Walter Charles died and left his girls behind. All three sisters knew their move to Cold Springs revolved around Mrs. Charles going back to the place where she had met their father. None of them had questioned her in that.

“I have a surprise for you,” Mrs. Charles reached into her purse and pulled out three tickets, her brown eyes smiling warmly.

“What’re those?” Nora asked suspiciously. The last time she had been presented with tickets, she had been forced to endure two hours at the Ice Capades with an elderly next door neighbor named Gertrude who smelled strongly of mint and mothballs.

“There’s a traveling circus here in town. I know you’ve wanted to go to one for a while now, and I figured it might let you girls relax after such a long trip,” Mrs. Charles waved the tickets in front of Nora.

Nora took them slowly, “You don’t want our help unpacking?”

Mrs. Charles shook her head, “You can help when you get back, but if you get your sisters out of this house, you’ll be doing me a huge favor. I need some peace and quiet right now.”

Upstairs, Clara let out a shriek of protest, “Gimme back my lip gloss, you cow!”



Nora’s List


The red and white tents fluttered loudly in the breeze as the girls entered the gate of the circus. Barred carts filled with lions and men carrying whips lined the walkway. Nora inhaled deeply the lovely smell of wispy cotton candy. Two tiny women with purple spandex suits smiled at the girls as they walked past, and a man with a black top hat saluted her from his booth that read, “See the last of the Swinging Tree Top Men.” Somewhere in a nearby tent she could hear a cabaret performer’s alto voice lilting the song, “Je Cherche un Homme.” Nora knew this because of her mother’s monstrous collection of Eartha Kitt records.

“Amelia, for the last time, your lipstick looks fine.” Clara remarked as she sipped lemonade.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, Clara,” Amelia retorted as she concentrated on applying a second red layer to her lips, “You have to work at being beautiful.”

“You couldn’t find Rome on a map,” Nora sniped, bumping Amelia with her shoulder. Amelia’s arm jerked and a big streak of red lipstick coated her left cheek.

Amelia closed her eyes slowly, “Don’t EVER touch me while I’m applying my makeup!”

Nora snickered, “Sorry. Accident.” Clara eyed her knowingly and Nora shrugged. As the youngest of the family, she took her shots when she could get them.

“Why are we here again?” demanded Clara as she stepped quickly to avoid a giant pile of animal excrement.

“Because Mom wants you two banshees out of the house, and because this is on my List,” Nora replied distractedly as she gazed into a nearby cage where a large black bear wore a red felt hat.

Clara peered at her, her short dark hair falling prettily just below her ears, “What List?”

“I am so BORED here,” Amelia insisted as she wiped the last of the lipstick from her cheek. She patted the top of her giant curly hair.

“Your hair’s as big as ever,” Nora noted dryly.

“Just because you two have absolutely no interest in making yourself look better doesn’t give you the right to be jealous of my fabulousness,” Amelia sniffed indignantly.

“What kind of List do you have?” Clara questioned again.

Nora didn’t have a chance to respond before Amelia intercepted, “10 things to do in her lifetime, blah blah blah.”

“That’s kind of cool,” Clara said admiringly, “I’ve never even considered making a List.”

Nora shrugged nonchalantly, “I’ve wanted to ride an elephant ever since I watched the movie Dumbo, so I put it on my List.”

“Correction,” Amelia stated, “you mean since you bawled your eyes out watching the movie Dumbo.”

Nora tossed her mismatched earrings defiantly, “It’s sad, ok! Especially when he can’t get to his mother and she stretches her trunk out the barred window. Besides, you cried too!”

“I’ve NEVER cried over a cartoon!” Amelia insisted.

“Oh yeah, you’re right, I forgot. It was Bambi that made you ball like a baby,” Nora poked.

“Well, I think this is exciting,” Clara decided, “you can cross something off your List and you’ll only have nine more things.”

“Then I can start trying to figure out how to rent a ski boat in Venice,” Nora muttered under her breath.

The girls reached the elephant tent and stood at the back of the line. The sign above the entrance read, “Ride One of Nature’s Most Beautiful Beasts: $5 per person.”

“So what else is on the List?” Clara asked.

Nora crossed her arms, “It’s private.”

“Private?” Clara miffed, “What could you possibly want to keep private from us?

“Don’t be insulting,” Nora stated seriously, “I have plenty of things going on that you two don’t know about.”

Amelia smiled as her eyes narrowed, “Well, not that private. We all know about your sacred first kiss with Clay Fitzgerald.”

Nora’s mouth dropped open as the blood left her face. She guarded her few precious secrets with absolute ferocity, and this was unthinkable. The calamity of the moment left her sputtering, “What? How…”

Clara snorted into her hand as Amelia shrugged, “I always listened in on the upstairs phone. Seriously, you couldn’t hear the click when I picked up? You are dense. What did you say, oh yes, I believe you said he was a ‘soulful kisser.’”

Nora seethed through her teeth, imagining all possible methods of retaliation. They flashed through her mind quickly until she settled on the tried and true ‘drop Amelia’s toothbrush in the toilet’ plan. But her anger still surged, “You catty, shallow, trashy little…”

“OK,” Clara clasped her hand over Nora’s mouth, “Can you guys chill out already? We haven’t been in this town more than 2 hours. I would REALLY like to avoid a Jerry Springer moment here in public.”

Amelia rolled her eyes and Nora sniffed loudly.

“OK?” Clara demanded louder.

Nora shrugged and looked away, “Whatever. New town, same old crap.”

The girls stood in silence, shifting from one leg to another. The crowd was dense and the heat came in waves, the subtle aroma of elephant dung wafting through the air.
Amelia fanned herself and shifted huffily as a small boy behind her swayed his ice cream cone dangerously close to her hand bag.

“That thing,” she informed him as she pointed to his ice cream, “better not come any closer to this Italian leather purse.”

Unimpressed, the small boy stuck his tongue out and kicked a pebble at her feet.
Nora leaned down closer to the boy, attempting to divert a full scale confrontation, “Hey, my shallow sister is pretty crabby today. Could you keep that ice cream away from her purse?”

“That’s not your sister,” ice cream boy responded through lowered, unconcerned lids.

“Yes, she is, actually,” Nora rubbed her temples, exhausted from dealing with mentally inferior beings.

“No she isn’t,” ice cream boy responded, “sisters look like each other. You don’t.”

Nora blinked, realizing the annoying boy had made an astute observation. The Charles sisters’ appearances were, in fact, totally different.

Clara was brunette, petite and always determined. She had withdrawn from college and moved with the family to Cold Springs, but planned on attending the local community college. Amelia couldn’t understand why Clara didn’t stay at the university with all her sorority sisters and friends. Nora understood. Clara didn’t want her family to leave her behind.

Amelia was the middle child at age 17, but no one could tell. She was taller than Clara, but not quite as tall as Nora. She had great piles of spiraling yellow hair and grey eyes. Amelia was strong, took charge, and was often, as she put it, wrongly persecuted because of her good looks.

Nora was the youngest at 16, but the tallest of the three girls. With her long sandy hair and graceful limbs, she was often encouraged to take ballet. But Nora, in her literary disdain, did not consider these comments complements. She fantasized about being a writer, despite that fact that Amelia called the last story she’d written a ‘suck fest.’

Nora blinked, adjusting her glasses determinedly, “Yeah, well just hold onto your ice-cream and be cool. Ok?”

“You’re not the boss of me,” ice cream boy retorted and moved defiantly close to Amelia’s purse.

Clara pushed Nora to one side and pointed her finger at ice cream boy, “If you don’t keep that to yourself, I’m going to take it away and feed it AND you to the elephants.”

Ice cream boy squinted, calculated the situation, and moved his ice cream cone sullenly to the side. The man in charge of the elephants wore a train conductor’s hat and clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention.

“I’ll be starting the rides now,” Conductor shouted in an English accent, “I’ll take four people at a time.”

Nora frowned, “I thought I’d get to ride by myself.”

Conductor began pointing, “Alright, I’ll take the boy in the red hat, the girl with the teddy bear, the boy with the ice cream cone, and you, there, Stretch.”

Nora stared at the man as he obviously meant her, hating the fact that he publicly called attention to her height. She then stared at the three small children she would be accompanying on her much anticipated elephant ride.

Ice cream boy glared at her and shoved his way to the front, “Why does she get to ride? She’s old.”

Nora could hear her sisters snickering behind her as she stepped forward, “Excuse me, sir?”

“Yeah?” he responded, distractedly helping the children mount an elephant adorned in red jewels and paint.

“Um, I thought we would get to ride by ourselves,” Nora questioned, hoping for a reprieve.

“Nope girlie,” Conductor shook his head, “you’ll have to ride like all the other kiddies. Now do you want on or not?”

Deep frown lines creased Nora’s brow, “I guess so.”

“Good, then load up,” he pointed for her to climb up on the platform where the elephant waited patiently.

Somewhere in the crowd, Nora could hear Amelia mimic a baseball announcer, “And the elephant takes his life in his own hands ladies and gentleman, attempting to lift the biggest child of them all.”

She felt the hot heat of embarrassment and frustration on her face as she struggled to climb and situate herself in a dignified manner behind the three small children.

“Ok,” Conductor said, “now I’m going to lead Franklin around the circle four times and then we’ll take the next group.”

Nora situated herself, tall and high above her sisters, Franklin the elephant, and three children. She felt like a lightening rod and stiffly tried to maintain her dignity without slumping. She gazed over the crowd, ignoring the fact that her sisters were pointing and laughing, and noticed an odd crowd gathering at the back of the tent. There were several dark figures clustered by themselves, hooded and quiet in the active crowd. No one else seemed to notice them.

They wore beautiful robes, embroidered and glittering in dark colors. Their heads were covered in hoods, but the tallest figure wore a large purple hat. Nora squinted, but somehow despite the lighting in the tent, couldn’t quite make out what their faces looked like.

The tallest of the figures turned slowly toward her, and Nora flinched. Beneath the large hat was only darkness, the face completely shielded from the light. But amid the shadows, Nora could see a pair of electric blue eyes. Despite the heat, a little shiver ran up her spine.

“Gross!” the little girl riding in front cried out, “Don’t put your ice cream on me!”
Ice cream boy snickered rudely, “Cry baby.”

They began to scuffle, and much to Nora’s horror, she felt Franklin’s giant saddle shift, “Knock it off!”

Ice cream boy glared at her and took a large defiant lick of ice cream.

Nora returned her gaze toward the crowd, but the hooded figures were gone. After an awkward dismount from Franklin, she scanned the crowd for the hooded group, but finding no sign of them, she distracted herself with a funnel cake. The girls headed homeward, climbing through the narrow snake-like streets.

“Ok, let’s see the List,” Clara commanded as she snatched a piece of Nora’s funnel cake, popping it into her mouth.

“What List?” Nora scowled, opening the front door and carefully shielding her food. Taking food without asking was grounds for assault in the Charles household.

“You know perfectly well what I’m talking about,” Clara answered.

“Yeah, let us look at it,” Amelia agreed as she leaned against the railing of the stairwell.

“Well I don’t have it on me,” Nora replied, incensed at being pressed on the subject.
“Go get it,” Amelia demanded.

“Forget it!” Nora railed, refusing to be bullied.

“I’ll bet it’s on her desk, in that leather notebook. You know the one she won’t let anyone look at?” Clara suggested, her hazel eyes glinting a devious yellow at Amelia, “What do you think?”

Amelia needed no further encouragement and leapt up the stairs two at a time.

“HEY!” Nora shouted, dropping her food and hurling herself after Amelia. She swiped at Amelia’s running feet, but instead fell flat onto the stairs. “Ow ow ow,” she yelled angrily and exploded into her room, but not before Amelia clutched her precious List.

Amelia read aloud as Clara arrived, lounging in the doorway, “I, Nora Charles, on this date, do choose to enumerate my heart’s dearest ambitions.”

“Enumerate huh? Whoa, little sis uses big words now,” Clara clucked.

“Give it back, you butthole!” Nora roared and pushed aside a stack of boxes, charging for Amelia.
Amelia calmly held her at bay with a hand placed securely on Nora’s forehead, “Item number 1. I will ride an elephant down the streets of Bombay.”

Nora jerked away and slouched on her desk chair, scorched with flames of injustice. She glared daggers at her older sisters, knowing it was her own stupid fault for letting her guard down, but it had been several months since they had banded together in an effort to give her a stroke. She hated it when she forgot what monsters they could be.

“I don’t know if riding a circus elephant counts,” Clara baited.

“It’s close enough, it counts,” Nora growled, her arms crossed and her face dark with bitter gall.

“Item number 2. In my lifetime, I will thwart a villain,” Amelia paused, confused, “Wait, what?”

“Thwart a…,” Clara snorted in spasms of laughter, “villain?”

“What does thwart mean?” Amelia asked in wonderment.

Nora put her head in her hands, completely humiliated.

Clara recovered slightly, “It means to stop a villain, like a bad guy in a movie. Nora, what in the world?”

Amelia, late coming to the joke, cackled and screeched, “What a giant dork! Nobody says things like that.”

Nora sprung to her own defense, “I’ve been keeping this list since I was ten years old, OK? I’d been reading a lot of fairy tales! Give me a break!”

“Was that when you were in that phase of pretending to slay a dragon in the backyard with Mom’s garden rake?” Clara asked, huge gales of laughter just waiting to explode past her smile.

“Or maybe it was the phase where you declared yourself sheriff of the neighborhood and tried to put Bobby Thomas in those stocks you built with Dad’s weight equipment?” Amelia razzed.

“Just give it back!” Nora yelled. She leapt across the room and plucked her List from Amelia’s hand, “Get out! Seriously!”

Clara and Amelia wheezed with laughter as they exited her room. Nora stomped back to her desk, clutching her List tightly. No one truly understood her pain, she fumed. Being the youngest with two older sisters was a torturous experience at best. She could never be quite sure when they would attack. One instant they were her best friends, treating her as a contemporary, and the next, Amelia was spraying her with a water gun and telling everyone Nora peed her pants.
She puffed indignantly and surveyed the room for a place to hide her precious List.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Dress That Failed Me


We've all got them. Those pieces of clothing that haven't fit for, ahem, years. And yet, we don't throw them away. Why is that?

I haven't worn this dress for at least three years. It's not that I cant get it on... it's these blasted hips. The zipper goes up, the top fits... but the bottom, how shall I put this gently, clings. Apparently, ten extra pounds makes one whale of a difference (no pun intended).

And yet, I keep the dress. I cant throw it away. I'd like to believe that I'll wear it again, but let's be real here. I probably wont. I wont start running marathons like my super-athlete friend Linda (who wrote a very compelling post that I recommend... although I'm not sure its fair that one woman be cute, have a stunning home and be a marathon athlete). But it's not in me. I'm a wuss. I come home from work and succumb to hubby's dinners and re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond. Then, if I'm having a good day, I write.

But I wont throw the dress away, even though she failed me. She didn't expand her zipper. She didn't lovingly delude me and allow me to ignore ten pounds. What did she do? She had the nerve to get tight. But I'll keep her all the same. Besides... she'd make a lovely pillow.




Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Small Town Saturday Night


I grew up in a bizarre little place. It's a small mountain town, the roads leading out of it weren't paved (with the exception of one) until the 1960's. And no, I'm not kidding. It's the home of folk music and craft festivals, and growing up I couldn't wait to escape. It seemed I lived at the end of the earth; a funnel cake eating, rodeo riding, dirt road driving, banjo playing, hillbilly earth.



But as I've established my life elsewhere, and am assured that no one is going to make me go back and live there, I've come to appreciate it. After all, if I hadn't grown up somewhere a little bizarre, I might not have anything to write about. I appreciate the things I used to loath, the 'Andy Griffith' aspects. People still play folk music on the court square. They still line up for ice cream on Saturday nights. They still wave at each other as they drive past, and I never worry about having my purse snatched or locking my car doors.






And sometimes, when I'm stuck in my car over an hour a day commuting and it's hot and someone gives me the bird for driving too slowly (a habit I no doubt formed in my hometown), I feel a little nostalgic. I miss the slow pace, the beautiful green hills, the cooler weather (everything, I've found, is cooler in the mountains). But then I get to work and remind myself of a bigger paychecks, sushi and cable tv, and once again all is right with the world.





video

And since I'm probably not doing the best of jobs of giving you a feel for the town, I thought I'd add a little video. No, this wasn't staged, groups of people do this every Saturday night on the court square. Welcome to my odd little hometown.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thank You


I snapped this photo this morning while Mabel used the 'facilities.' It's a morning ritual; she wanders around the yard completely distracted while I remind her over and over, "GO POTTY!" My neighbors love me.

As I was taking pictures, Mabel rolled around in the sunny yard (great for her grass allergies) and suddenly, two blue jays soared out of the trees and started to dive bomb her. They were making that horrible screechy sound and decidedly pecking my dog. I grabbed the broom beside the door and leaped into the yard, swinging it over my head like mad, trying my best to smack one of them into the next yard.

The irony of this situation is not lost on me (me, my broom, morning witchiness), but the blue jays and I actually had a lot in common. Mean as they are, they were simply trying to protect their nest. I was simply trying to protect my own baby. My baby who, by the way, stood totally stunned and horrified, peering up at me and my broom with big, scared eyes. I kept thinking, "Run dummy!"

It can be the same way with a book, or a piece of art, or a film you've directed, a cake baked, an apron sewn. You love it, you want to protect it, but sometimes that's not possible. Because when anyone creates something, they do it to share with others. And the hard truth is, sometimes people might not like it. I would love to write for a living, but in all sincerity, that's not why I write. I write because it's fun and I want someone else to read it, it's as simple as that.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading and commenting yesterday. It was a nerve wracking experience, but a good one. Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you liked, and what you didn't like. I adore honest people.

And heaven bless Rita, who offered me $20 to read the rest of the manuscript. That was my very first offer of income on anything I've ever written! I'm considering posting chapters over time for those of you that might want to read on. We shall see. Until then, beware of blue jays and have a marvelous weekend!




Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Deep Breath... Here Goes


OK. This is terrifying. Big time terrifying. It ranks right up there with monkey masks and faces in windows and cans of beets. Well, maybe cans of beets are more disgusting than scary, but you know what I mean.

I'm going to post a sample of the first chapter (along with prologue) today. It feels like ripping off a band aid. An entrenched, three year old band aid that has grown to my skin.


In advance, for those few kind souls that actually trudge along and read this thing, it's a middle grade/YA book for girls called The Mystery of Cold Springs. It's a mystery/adventure about three sisters.

OK. Here goes.




Prologue


The group of women walked swiftly across the tiled floor, their heels clicking, echoing into the blackness. Alicia followed happily after them, content with her new companions and eager to see the secret place they promised to show her.

“How beautiful,” she marveled, gazing around the cavern in awe.

The women laughed softly in unison as the tallest one stepped forward. A large hat hid most of her face, but her deep blue eyes seemed to glow as she gazed piercingly through the darkness, “We’re so happy you could be here tonight.”

Alicia smiled again and looked down toward the sound of the cold, rushing water. She glanced at the women in blissful ignorance, pleased as she heard her own voice echo back to her from the darkness, “I had no idea this was here.”

The woman with blue eyes blinked her long lashes, examining the girl like a scientist examines an insect, “Would you care to see something else extraordinary?”

Alicia nodded eagerly, her golden hair shining brightly in the torch light.

The woman’s eyes crinkled with a frigid smile as she wrapped her long fingers around a wooden box, laying it on the ground in the middle of the women.

“Now, Alicia, if you would be so kind as to stand right here,” she grasped her shoulders and positioned the girl directly beside the box.

Alicia, eager to please, blindly obeyed.

The women closed into a tight circle, the rushing water echoing on the faraway walls.
“Now,” the tall woman instructed soothingly, “hold very still. I’m sure we all want this to be as painless as possible.”

Alicia’s eyes filled with confusion, “What?”

With one smooth flash, the tall figure withdrew a long blade from her robe, her long fingers curled tightly around it.

“Wait! Nooooo!” Alicia screamed, her large eyes pleading for mercy as she backed away.

The tall woman smiled calmly. “I told you to hold still,” she hissed.

Alicia’s innocent face twisted in horror. There was a flash of metal as piercing, girlish shrieks echoed through the darkness. Then, only silence.

The tall woman smiled as she wiped the splashes of crimson from her pale face, “Now ladies, let’s begin.”





Chapter 1: The Move

Nora Charles pushed the moving boxes beside her to the other side of the backseat. Her stomach clenched with nausea on every curve of the old mountain highway. She swept her sand colored hair away from her clammy forehead and readjusted her long legs uncomfortably. Despite the fact that she had turned 16 last month, her two older sisters still forced her into riding submissively in the backseat. She seethed in the humidity, pushing her knees into the back of the driver’s seat.

Amelia clenched the steering wheel and shifted forward in her seat, “Ow, Nora! That hurts!”

Nora smirked, “I know, that’s why I did it.”

Amelia grumbled something incoherent and accelerated quickly.

“I’m seriously gonna puke!” Nora yelled as they rounded another curve and the boxes slid into her once again. She peered nervously out the window, wishing passionately that the old mountain highway had guard rails.

“There’s nothing wrong with my driving. You should have taken Dramamine,” Amelia stated, unsympathetic to her younger sister’s pleas. She was ironically non-peace loving, despite her middle child position in the Charles family.

Clara, the oldest of the sisters at age 18, snorted, her hazel eyes flashing authoritatively as she eyed the speedometer cautiously, “Please. You suck at driving in these mountains!”

Amelia tossed her large yellow curls defiantly, “I’m in complete control, I’ve always had cat-like reflexes. Besides, mom and the moving van are probably already there, and we need to hurry.”

Nora huffily pushed the boxes back to their side of the car and leaned forward, desperate to feel a breeze from the meager air conditioner in the front seat. She suddenly wished she had chosen to ride in the large moving van with Mrs. Charles and the family dog, Fat George. But her mother left at six that morning, declaring the girls too slow to wait on.

“Can I please ride in the front now? It’s sweltering back here!” Nora declared.

“No, I can’t take the time to pull over,” Amelia answered.

Nora glared at her sisters and poked her knees into the backseat again. “I can’t remember being this hot,” she grumped as she cleaned a smudge from her black rimmed glasses, “How far are we? It’s been hours already.”

“We should be there soon,” Clara answered evenly.

Amelia watched Nora cleaning her glasses in the rearview mirror, “Why do you wear those goggles anyway? Contacts would look way better.”

Nora sighed seriously, “I’m not a fan of inserting foreign objects into my eyes. And they are NOT goggles.”

“You’re right. They look like bee keeper glasses,” Amelia stated.

Nora drew a long breath to maintain her calm, trying to swallow down annoyance at the fact they had listened to the same Arctic Monkeys c.d. for the past two hours. She liked them, but as Amelia kept pushing the repeat button on I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor, Nora’s patience edged into the red.

“Let’s listen to some of my cd’s now,” she grabbed her backpack off the floorboard, “I brought the Andrews Sisters, Count Basie…”

Amelia shook her head, her gaudy hoop earrings flashing angrily in the sunlight, “Absolutely not. I am not listening to that grandma music. Your taste in music is so gross; no one wants to listen to that ‘large band’ crap.”

Nora glared at the back of her sister’s fuzzy hair, “For the millionth time, it’s ‘big band,’ Idiot.”

“Idiot,” Amelia mocked in a high pitched voice.

“Will you two shut up already?” Clara commanded.

Nora’s disposition soured hot and humid as she ignored Clara and poked Amelia’s shoulder, “Are you still mad about that stupid trophy? I’ve already apologized twice.”

“You broke it,” Amelia stated, her voice dropping into a low accusatory tone.

“Not on purpose! It was an accident,” Nora insisted.

“That trophy was special!” Amelia bellowed, her hands clenched angrily on the steering wheel.

Nora had been in charge of carrying Amelia’s box of trophies to the moving van earlier that morning. Amelia had spelled out very simple instructions, “Do NOT drop these.” But, Fat George, their exuberant 30 pound schnauzer, had other ideas as he raced between Nora’s feet. Nora watched the box fall, the world chaotic in slow motion. A large trophy with a gold W engraved on it crashed to the ground, snapping in half.

Nora wanted to be sorry. She wanted to feel badly for Amelia. But as she stared at Amelia’s big blonde hair, she mostly just wanted to slap her.

“What’s the big deal? You’ve got hundreds of them!” Nora stated, feeling almost immediately that she was poking a bear.

Amelia turned the wheel sharply and the car swerved insanely, veering onto the narrow shoulder of the highway and screeched to a halt. Clara braced herself like a cat, feet on the dashboard and fingers gripping the armrests. Nora pushed the boxes off of her lap and peered out the window, the mountain side dropping steeply beside them.

Amelia sat very still, “I will NOT drive any further while she blasphemes about my trophies.”

Clara took her feet off the dashboard, her normally tolerant disposition evaporated, “Are you crazy! You’re not driving anywhere ever again, you moronic fart! Get out, I’m driving.”

Amelia crossed her arms resolutely, “Not until she apologizes.”

“I already apologized! And you don’t even know what ‘blaspheme’ means anyway! Do you?” Nora blustered, suspecting her dignity was being squelched.

“It means, um, that has nothing to do with it! Apologize again!” Amelia demanded.

Clara reached over and pinched a giant plug of Amelia’s arm, “I said OUT!”

Amelia’s one track determination was not deterred. She whirled around facing Nora, “Do you know what that W stood for on that trophy?”

“Um, I don’t know. It could stand for a lot of things; Wimp, Wuss, WEASLE!” Nora baited, too inflamed by the blistering September heat to even consider defusing the situation.

“NO! It stood for Winner! It was my favorite trophy!” Amelia railed, her humid curly hair frizzing in the sizzling heat.

Clara and Nora gazed at their angry middle sister, coldly unmoved by her hysterics.

“Well, obviously! I’m the winner!” Amelia reiterated, waiting for a reaction.

“Are you done? Is there even the remotest possibility that you’re going to calm down?” Clara asked, her arms folded sternly across her chest.

Amelia slumped slightly, “I won it in the fourth grade. Remember? Dad coached my basketball team.”

The car grew tense and silent. Nora was suddenly filled with guilt as an old familiar feeling of longing came back. They all missed Mr. Charles painfully, even though they barely spoke of him now.

Clara patted Amelia’s shoulder, uncharacteristically sympathetic, “I bet Nora can glue it back together. Remember when she fixed Mom’s vase? She’s good at those things.”

Amelia slumped in her seat, suddenly deflated and sad.

"Yeah,” Nora agreed, giving Amelia a cautious pat on the back, “I’ll fix it and you’ll never be able to tell it was broken.”

“You promise?” Amelia sniffed.

“Cross my heart,” Nora agreed as she pushed another box off her leg.

“Alright, then I’m sorry about scaring you guys just now. I really didn’t mean to stop that close to the edge,” Amelia admitted.

“That’s ok,” Clara mothered firmly, “but you’re still not driving.”

Clara settled behind the wheel and Amelia graciously turned one air conditioning vent toward the backseat for Nora, subtly letting her know all was forgiven. The curving two lane highway continued its wind through the green canopied mountains. Nora watched with great interest as they passed hillside farms and small stone cottages nestled beside flowing creeks. An old green highway sign with buckshot holes in it read, “Cold Springs, population 950.”

They passed a dilapidated gas station and much to Nora’s delight, a grocery store called Piggly Wiggly. The highway made a sharp turn and began a steep descent into a valley. They rounded another turn and found themselves in the heart of Cold Springs. The Victorian downtown buildings were molded ornately with a bizarre mix of gargoyles and gingerbread. The main street was barely wide enough for an oncoming car to squeeze by.

“What the…” Clara yelled as a turquoise VW van drove by within inches of their car, “Stupid driver!”

Nora was too enthralled by their new home town to pay attention to road conditions. The downtown looked as it did when the town was first built. Tiny shops lined the main street, their front windows awash with colorful glass displays, hand sewn skirts, and anything else the eccentric locals might choose to sell. Many of the shop owners lived on the second floors, the upper balconies lined with patio tables, baskets of geraniums and twinkle lights.

“Get on your own side of the road! Moron!” Clara yelled at another passing car.

Nora spotted a group of grizzled men with long beards and tie died shirts playing their guitars in the park. A middle-aged woman with curly red hair pounded merrily on a bongo hanging around her neck as she danced around them.

Amelia clutched the oversized pink pearls around her neck, “Holy crap. It’s an entire town full of freaks.”

A large group of teenage boys with black shaggy hair and tattoos skate boarded down the sidewalk, flicking their cigarette butts onto the ground in front of a quant quilting store with lace window curtains.

Clara hunched seriously over the steering wheel, applying all her mental efforts to keeping their car from being scratched by oncoming traffic, “They should make this street one way!”

Nora rolled her window down, leaning her head out to get a better look at this Victorian village they would now call home. A woman with a Mohawk and a t-shirt that read, Bella Figura walked down the sidewalk and peered at them over the tops of her large sunglasses.

“Oh I like it here,” Nora decided as she peered with interest at a little boy walking a pink poodle.

“Yeah. You would,” Amelia scoffed, “I bet there’s not even a mall in this stupid town. I’m going to be doing a lot of online shopping.”

Clara carefully steered the car up the winding streets and made a left on Mimosa Lane. They passed a small blue bungalow, a yellow gingerbread cottage and came to a dead end in front of their new home. The moving van was parked precariously in the narrow driveway that was initially intended for nothing wider than a horse and buggy.

“Wow,” Nora breathed, gazing at their new house.

The new house was really a very old Victorian house. It was two stories tall, with a large front porch and bay windows facing out onto the street. Peeling blue paint, pink gingerbread, and mimosa trees framed the house. Mrs. Charles opened the screen door on the front porch and greeted her daughters.

“Don’t you love it? It has so much potential!” Mrs. Charles exclaimed, her long brown hair tied in a bun.

Amelia snorted, “Potential is just another way of saying craptastic.”

Nora rolled up her window and got out of the car. She admired the yellow rose bushes along the stone pathway and the light blue ceiling of the front porch.

“This place is sweet!” she exclaimed approvingly, hugging her mother.

Mrs. Charles kissed the top of her head, “I knew you’d like it. I’m glad to see you girls arrived in one piece.”

“Just barely,” Nora muttered.


Feeling Loopy and Book Stuff


I have no idea what position the moon is in, or whether I've received a huge surge of endorphins due to my nightly walks (aka torture sessions for the out-of-shape) with Rebecca, or if maybe, just maybe, I've finally lost it. But I'm super loopy here lately.

I suspect it stems from four months of working myself into the ground finishing a book, starting a second and trying to find an agent. It has not been pretty, people. I've got purple circles under my eyes that would make the Cullen family look well-rested (a little inside joke for all you Twilight readers). I've also been mulling over the idea of posting a sample first chapter, just to get some feedback from you fine folks.

Any opinions?



Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Rug in Office


I tried so hard to think of a clever title for this post. I sipped on coffee, waiting for it to kick in and something inspirational to dawn on me and... nothing. Whew, it's going to be one of those days.


Am I the only one? Doesn't it seem that sometimes, despite our best efforts and intentions, nothing seems to go right. And in fact, everything seems to go very, very wrong? I can hear my Mom's logical reasoning in my head.

"The rain falls on everyone"

"Don't get your nose out of joint"

"You've got the same shoes to get happy in."




I'm not terribly upset, but my feathers have definitely been rumpled. But time will mend it, the caffeine will dull it, and hopefully by this afternoon I'll be eating my Lean Cuisine with a smile on my face. Ok, maybe not a smile, but hopefully the frown crease in the middle of my eyebrows will have gone away.

Back to the rug; I found this runner on sale for $25 last week. I love these rugs, although I'm not sure what they're called. The tag said it was an "Indian rug" and I've heard them called kilims. I had no idea where to put it, since we have no front entry hall nor long hallway to the bedrooms, but I think it might work in the office for now. I just love the colors, the little bird and flower design. Wouldn't it just look fantastic in the front entry hall of a farmhouse? But then again, anything would look fabulous in the front entry hall of a farmhouse!


Thanks for plodding through my mini-pity party. Wait a second. I think I smell donuts wafting from across the hall. Ahhhh... the day is looking better already.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Pitfalls of Sister Shopping


I think Rebecca and I have hit every antique mall in a 50 mile vicinity. I'm REALLY enjoying going shopping with someone that is as serious about vintages things as I am. We shop in a way that allows us to cover an entire store thoroughly; I scan the big things, Rebecca picks through jewelry cases and small things. Between the two of us, we could easily fill an empty house in one weekend's time.


There are certain pitfalls to this situation. On one hand; I've got a full fledged shopping partner who doesn't get tired or irritated as I make my way through booths while 'oohing' and ahhing' out loud for everyone to hear. On the other hand; we essentially like the same things. Therefore, shopping becomes a 'first come, first serve' experience. I found a cameo necklace in a bargain bin: finders keepers. She found a 1930's glass head (used for hat displays) for a mere $9: too bad, so sad for me.


But we allow each other oddities that most people would be concerned about. For example; I didn't bat an eye when Rebecca latched onto this alligator (literally) purse.


And she didn't bat an eye when I fell all over myself for this hippo. Isn't that the wildest thing? I very nearly came home with that, but the booth owner thought it was worth WAY more than I was wiling to pay.




We've also decided that booth owners should NEVER do this. Never. I see things like this and go, "OK, moving on." Seriously, it's tacky.





And speaking of tacky...we also advise against merchandise like this. Just, just, no.




I also managed to humiliate myself by clinging to this dentist cabinet like a baby. No really. I almost cried. But the tears really would have flowed if I'd plopped down the $800 they wanted for it. Ouch.







Friday, June 6, 2008

Flowers for the Weekend


My sweet sister brought these home for me this week. She's spoiling me folks. She cleans up the house, brings flowers, and sits on the back patio with me after work, chatting until the lightening bugs fade away. We're having way too much fun living together.


I also picked a few gardenias from the yard last night and floated them in a little bowl. The kitchen smells heavenly (as opposed to its usual aroma of "Whoops, I forgot to take out the trash again"). I planted the little bush two years ago, with nary a flower since. And suddenly, today, I noticed five. I cant help but think about life, how sometimes things just have to happen in their own time. If it were up to me, that little gardenia bush would have been farming out flowers from day one, but she knew what time was best. Who knows why that happens? Why it takes a flowering plant two years to do her job. Why lightening bugs flood all the back yards behind the house every night, like clockwork. Why locust and tree frogs sing in loud waves, and then for seemingly no reason, grow silent.

I'm spending WAY too much time on the patio. Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Miss the Cranberries?





I do. I miss listening to them while I scribbled with 16 year old intensity in my diary. I miss listening to them while watching the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling above my bed, plotting my fantastic, adventurous future. Yeah, I was a smidge melodramatic as a teen.

Anyhoo, I really love this group, Eisley. They remind me a little of the Cranberries. Except they aren't Irish. And they don't yodel. Oh yeah, and none of the girls have a buzz haircut. But even so, they send me back a little.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dumpster Diving


I've got a thing about freebies. They make my my pulse race and my eyes glow with feverish enthusiasm. I jump up and down, I squeal, I run back to my car with arms full and overflowing. I cart them home, throw them on the living room floor in front of my husband (who generally gazes at me with a simultaneous expression of confusion and concern) and proclaim, "Look! It was all FREE!"

If dumpster diving was an Olympic sport; I would win. No question about it. You see, the key to being successful is not being ashamed. Was I embarrassed last year when I saw a free patio set on the side of the road and carted the table home on top of my car, driving VERY slowly while I reached my hand out the window and balanced it without ropes? No.

The Queen Mother of all dumpster diving takes place at the end of every school year. I attended a private university, and most of the students there came from out of state. At the end of every school year those students begin loading up their cars or packing their bags to go home to places like Michigan, Oklahoma, California, and even as far away Japan. Some drive, some fly, some take buses. But the important part of this story is that each of those students suddenly discover they don't have room to take home all the belongings they've accumulated over the past year. And that's where I come in.

The 'throw away' piles in the lobbies is unlike anything I've ever seen. Giant piles, towering over my head, of clothes, brooms, shoes, cleaning supplies, the occasional tv. So every year I pilgrimage to 'help' my sister move out. And peruse the giant piles in the lobby. That's right folks, I'm hard core.




My poor mother cringed as my sisters and I picked through t-shirts and cases of never used light bulbs (I really couldn't figure that out). She kept shaking her head and saying, "I'll buy you light bulbs if you need them!" I just chuckled. I cant really explain the freebie concept. It's like the old quote, "Why did the man climb the mountain? Because it was there." Why did I take a carton of unused light bulbs? Well.. you get the idea.



In the end, my sisters and I discovered yet another way to bond. Rebecca was given a FREE computer by a classmate returning to Maine (she didn't need it anymore b/c her daddy was buying her a laptop this summer... I know... I wanted to slap her too). Rachel hit pay dirt with a stack of t-shirts, and I found three cases of light bulbs, four unused bottles of bathroom cleaner and a mountain of hot chocolate packets. And mom hid in the car hoping no one recognized her.